Death Penalty


This guide is designed to help you research information about the death penalty . It includes an index of scholarly sources, as well as a list of websites and search engines that will be helpful in your research. If you have any trouble finding these sources or need help narrowing down a specific research topic, please ask a librarian for help. Good Luck! Any comments or suggestions are welcome!
  • RCC Library Home Page: Most materials found in this research guide are available at the library's home page.
  • Reference Desk: Please contact the library if you have any questions concerning this guide or research.



The on-line catalog provides access to the Library's collection of approximately 40,000 books, periodicals and audio-visual titles. These resources may be used to find information for assignments or general interest.

Tutorial for searching catalog and ordering books from MBLN

Helpful Search Terms:

  • "Capital Punishment"
  • "Death Penalty"
  • "Death Row"

Circulating Books

Urbina, Martin G. Capital Punishment in America: Race and the Death Penalty Over Time. El Paso: LFB Scholarly Pub., 2012. Print.
Call Number: HV8699.U5 U734 2012

Koch, Larry Wayne. The Death of the American Death Penalty: States Still Leading the Way. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2012. Print.
Call Number: KF9227.C2 K63 2012

Madeira, Jody Lyneé. Killing McVeigh: the Death Penalty and the Myth of Closure. New York: New York University Press, 2012. Print.
Call Number: KF224.M37 M33 2012

Latzer, Barry and McCord, David. Death Penalty Cases: Leading U.S. Supreme Court Cases on Capital Punishment. Burlington: Elsevier/Butterworth Heinemann, 2011. Print.
Call Number: KF9227.C2 L38 2011

Garland, David. America's Death Penalty: Between Past and Present. New York: New York University Press, 2011. Print.
Call Number: HV8699.U5 A745 2011

Melusky, Joseph Anthony. Capital Punishment. Santa Barbara: Greenwood, 2011. Print.
Call Number: KF9227.C2 M4158 2011

Baird, Robert and Rosenbaum, Stuart. The Death Penalty: Debating the Moral, Legal, and Political Issues. Amherst: Prometheus Books, 2011. Print.
Call Number: KF9227.C2 D41175 2011

Goodheart, Lawrence B. The Solemn Sentence of Death: Capital Punishment in Connecticut. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2011. Print.
Call Number: HV8699.U6 C848 2011


Lane, Charles. Stay of Execution: Saving the Death Penalty from Itself. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2010. Print.
Call Number: HV8699.U5 L366 2010

Oshinsky, David M. Capital Punishment on Trial: Furman v. Georgia and the Death Penalty in Modern America. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2010. Print.
Call Number: KF9227.C2 O83 2010



The library recently added 20,000 online books from the vendor Ebrary. This is the “community college” collection, of interest to students and faculty at 2-year colleges. All books are simultaneously available to all RCC users.

The Road to Abolition?: the Future of Capital Punishment in the United States
Ogletree, Charles J., Jr. and Austin Sarat, eds. The Road to Abolition?: the future of capital punishment in the United States. New York: New York University Press, 2009. Web.

Death by Design: Capital Punishment as a Social Psychological System
Haney, Craig. Death by Design: Capital punishment as a social psychological system. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. Web.

Capital Punishment: Strategies for Abolition
Hodgkinson, Peter and William A. Schabas, eds. Capital Punishment: Strategies for abolition. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004. Web.

Racial Prejudice, Juror Empathy, and Sentencing in Death Sentence Cases
Edelman, Bryan C. Racial Prejudice, Juror Empathy, and Sentencing in Death Sentence Cases. New York: LFB Scholarly Pub., 2006. Web.

Wrongful Capital Convictions and the Legitimacy of the Death Penalty
Miller, Karen S. Wrongful Capital Convictions and the Legitimacy of the Death Penalty. New York: LFB Scholarly Pub. LLC, 2006. Web.

Reference Books

Sources annotated with REF are found in the 2nd floor Reference Section and are for in-Library use only.

Encyclopedia of Capital Punishment in the United States
Palmer, Louis J. Encyclopedia of Capital Punishment in the United States. Boston: Credo Reference, 2012. Web.

Henderson, Harry. Capital Punishment. 3rd ed. New York: Facts on File, 2006.
Call Number: REF KF9227 .C2 F53 2006

Streaming Video

Films On Demand

Death Sentence: the Story of Capital Punishment (60 minutes)
A few centuries ago, state-sanctioned killing was thought of mainly as a control mechanism—a deterrent to crime. Thus, a person could be hanged not just for murder but for minor offences such as petty theft. With the emergence of the police force as a civic institution, however, some began to view capital punishment as the sordid appeasement of our communal thirst for vengeance, and today it is a continual source of debate. This program explores the issue through historical examples and interviews with legal scholars. Case studies focus on Derek William Bentley, hanged as an accomplice to murder at the age of 19; Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be executed in the United Kingdom; and Gary Gilmore, the first person to be put to death following the 1976 reinstatement of capital punishment in the United States. Contains mature content. Produced by the Open University.

Death Row Kids (27 minutes)
“They think we’re beasts.” So says a condemned murderer, succinctly expressing the view of many Americans. But this killer committed his crime when he was 17, and asks for compassion on those grounds. Filmed prior to the March 1, 2005, U.S. Supreme Court ruling barring execution for underage offenses, Death Row Kids tells the stories of confused and frightened young people awaiting the ultimate penalty. The program also alludes to medical findings that a 17-year-old’s brain lacks fully developed decision-making capabilities. The result is a provocative inquiry into complex issues of personal responsibility and the likelihood of criminal rehabilitation.

Fourteen Days in May: the Capital Punishment Debate (88 minutes)
In May 1987, Edward Johnson, a young African-American found guilty of murder and attempted rape, was executed at Parchman Penitentiary in Mississippi. This program, set in the days immediately preceding and following Johnson’s death in the gas chamber, focuses on the legal mechanism for execution and the intense ethical debate surrounding it. Johnson is interviewed at length. Questions arising from that interview explore such issues as whether the death penalty is ever justified, whether it is disproportionately used against minorities, and whether legal avenues of appeal are sufficient, or overly-weighted in favor of criminals. A BBC Production.


Browse these paper journals and magazines in the library's periodicals section for articles about abortion.
  • Journal of Crime & Justice
  • Newsweek
  • Time


Access to millions of journal, magazine, newspaper and reference source articles through our research databases.
Provides full text for more than 3,800 scholarly publications covering academic areas of study including over (5,000 articles mentioning "death penalty," 4,500 articles mentioning "capital punishment," and over 1,800 articles mentioning "death row".)

Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center is a one-stop source for information on today's hottest social issues. Drawing on acclaimed series published by Greenhaven Press and other Gale imprints, OVRC features viewpoint articles, topic overviews, full-text magazine, academic journal, and newspaper articles, primary source documents, statistics, images and podcasts, and links to Websites.

Web sites

There are many helpful web sites about abortion. The web sites listed below have been evaluated by library staff. Remember to always evaluate internet resources. To find out more about evaluating web sites, Cornell University has an informative guide.
This site is an excellent, reliable, and often-updated source of information. Topics such as Juveniles, Women, Mental Illness and Retardation, and Race are covered. Fact sheets with statistics, multimedia, Supreme Court cases and educational materials are also available.
This government website reports the statistics of the death penalty by state, gender, race, etc.It is updated annually, and also provides visuals of the data, such as charts and graphs.
ProCon offers unbiased, information on a variety of social issues, including capital punishment, for citizens to understand them better.

Multimedia Sites

This PBS website offers their programs freely online. At least two hour-long documentaries are available on the topic of the death penalty, specifically When Kids Get Life and Burden of Innocence.
Provides interviews, short documentaries, audio clips and debates on the death penalty from National Public Radio, network news outlets, and independent documentary publishers.

Citing Sources: Style Guides

APA Style Tutorial

Laguardia Community College Library MLA and APA citation style

The Owl at Purdue: APA Formatting and Style Guide

The Owl at Purdue: MLA 2009 Formatting and Style Guide

Basic Research Help

Please click the Ask a Librarian icon if you have any questions concerning these guides, need help finding material for your research or any general questions you might have.

General Library Information

Research guide prepared on 10/30/07 by Cindy Fisher, updated on 12/21/09 by William Hoag, updated on 6/10/13 by Mallory Wilson; updated on 3/31/2014 by Katie Bliss.